A new report from the Environment America Research & Policy Center (EARPC) that reviewed 16 recent state-level analyses of the value of solar concludes that having solar customers on your grid does not have a negative effect on non-solar ratepayers.
As debates over solar’s value rage in states across the country, EARPC’s “Shining Rewards: The Value of Rooftop Solar Power For Consumers and Society” sheds light on what many solar advocates have long argued: that individuals and businesses that decide to install solar provide more benefits to the grid and society than they take in the form of net-metering.
To date, at least 16 states have reviewed the question of whether having solar customers in a state burdens non-solar customers with excessive costs of infrastructure upkeep. EARPC’s analysis shows that the argument, often put forth by utilities trying to limit solar’s growth, is false. This analysis comes at a critical juncture for the solar industry, as rate design is currently a hot topic in almost every state.
In the third quarter of 2016 alone, 42 states and the District of Columbia considered making significant changes to rate design and net-metering policies, ranging from increased fixed charges on solar customers to altering net-metering to solar’s detriment. These moves often come despite state-level studies that disprove utilities’ cost-shift argument.
For example, Nevada has commissioned two ‘value of solar’ studies since 2014, both of which showed solar customers provide an overall net benefit to non-solar ratepayers in the state. Nevertheless, the state introduced draconian net-metering changes that crushed the state’s DG solar market. However, these radical changes have been put on hold while a third study — commissioned this year — is completed.
In Maine, a study showed that solar customers could save non-solar ratepayers $775 million in savings over a 20-year period. But at Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s insistence, the study was shelved and a new one commissioned, while LePage proposed phasing out net-metering completely in a short period of time.
EARPC notes that “net metering has been critical to solar energy’s rapid expansion in the United States” and argues that “policy-makers should continue net-metering policies.” Among its recommendations are:
- Lifting arbitrary caps that limit solar’s expansion in fast-growing markets;
- Rejecting net-metering alternatives that don’t provide “full and fair compensation” to solar consumers; and
- Ensuring all people can take advantage of net-metering policies by implementing virtual net-metering programs.
This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.